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new executive director 2021

Portland Open Studios Announces New executive Director Hire supported by The Murdock Trust

Portland Open Studios (PDXOS) has selected Kirista Trask, the current President of the Board, as its first Executive Director.  An opportunity provided by the support of  funds awarded by the Murdock Trust.

The move heralds a new era for the previously volunteer-run organization, which has organized the area’s largest and oldest free citywide art studio tour for 23 years, held every 2nd and 3rd weekends of October.  Over the past few years, the organization has transitioned from an event-only non profit, to offering professional development services to help professional artists navigate the business of being an artist in the digital age. 

“The rewarding of this grant recognizes the growth and expansion of Portland Open Studios, especially during - and despite - the 2020 Pandemic,” said George Thorne, a Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) advisor who has been training the non-profit leadership since 2019.  “This grant for a paid staff person is entirely necessary to ensure the organization’s future long term stability and future growth.”

Trask first joined the organization as a participating artist in 2018, quickly volunteering with the board as marketing director and eventually moving into the role of Board President.  Since then, Trask has spearheaded the development of an educational program for artist members that helped artists affected by the pandemic pivot to online selling.

Trask and her fellow board members, Leah Kohlenberg (board chairman) and Jolinda Miller (vice president), have long recognized that artists needed more support.  In 2019, Trask and Kohlenberg enrolled in an arts leadership training program funded by RACC, working with Thorn to help them transition to expand the organization’s reach and scope.

Those plans were jump-started when the 2020 Corona Pandemic hit, and the arts fairs that are the bread and butter of many artists closed.  PDXOS decided to stay open as an online event, and trained artists to update their websites, run online digital sales and learn to present on Instagram live.  In 2021, the event went back to being in-person, and artists were offered six workshops on how to work with social media, to update their websites, to run effective email campaigns, to build a creative business plan and to get local press coverage.